Isn’t it time to try to bring back the age of printing out family photos, framing them, and hanging them up?

We all have a treasure trove of digital pictures on a hard drive somewhere. Wouldn’t it be grand to display them for all to see? How about sending them to someone you love so they can display them with pride?

When I was young, my grandparents had a whole wall dedicated to photos of the grandkids growing up through the years. The wall of photos would grow each year with new school pictures, but my personal favorites were the ones of the kids dressed in their holiday best, beaming to the ceiling (probably because they were promised a visit to Santa after they posed nicely for photos :D). Those pictures were the ones in which you could see the relation to our grandparents. You could see a smile handed down from generations back.

The climate being as it is, with quarantine and winter rolling in, it could be a fantastic time to pick digital pictures to print: to be made into calendars, beautifully framed, or arranged into a keepsake photo album. You know the one I’m talking about, with the sticky pages, the faux leather exterior, and the clunky binder rings that eventually won’t meet up anymore. But of course, the option of a beautifully coordinated photo album is always available.

Family photos connect us to those who came before. They show that even though my parents are brown of hair and have a darker eye color, I ended up with Grandpa Bill’s blond hair and blue eyes. Genes are funny like that. And the only way we could know what my grandfather looked like when he was younger, is from the copious amounts of pictures we have, ranging from black and white pictures to the color film revolution.

American Scientist recently dubbed this potential loss of generations’ worth of photos and home movies the “digital dark age“. We should all make an effort now to preserve them before it’s too late.This seemingly atavistic urge to produce and preserve family pictures is a comparatively recent phenomenon. Before photography, the only way to get a portrait was, of course, to have one painted. Even if you could book them, Holbein and Gainsborough didn’t come cheap, so this tended to restrict the practice to the very rich. Then came the 1850s, the photographic revolution, and Queen Victoria.

The Queen and her consort embraced the new technology with the same enthusiasm that today’s teenagers have for Facebook. Every regal minutia was faithfully recorded. When the middle classes saw this, they wanted in on the act as well. Throughout the land, professional photographers opened up to cash in on the trend, and people coughed up hefty sums to be immortalized in sepia. It was expensive because a photographic portrait was still a laborious, technical procedure. (Hewitt, Michael. “The Rise and Rise of Family Photographs.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 5 Mar. 2011, )

Now the term ‘family portrait’ can be for the family that you make for yourself. Go to the mall to pose with Santa and your four best friends; it’s a great way to spend a day. Plus, it is genuinely fun to meet Santa, no matter what your age. Everyone loves even just a little bit of Holiday Cheer.

Exaggerate the phenomena that were the 80’s and 90’s awkward family portraits. Take loud and uproariously funny family photos with the cat, the dog, and all the hairspray and Christmas decor you can muster.

This year, how about giving the gift of memories? To the family, friends, or that co-worker you just really like… We would love to make your memories a bit more tangible!